Arsene Wenger defends final few seasons at Arsenal and slams "harsh" criticism

Arsene Wenger has slammed what he has branded “unfair” and “harsh” criticism on his final few seasons at Arsenal.

The Frenchman left the Gunners in 2018 after 22 years in charge.

Despite bringing in three Premier leagues, seven FA Cups, and reaching a Champions League final, his final few seasons were marked by worsening results and growing “Wenger out” calls from the fans.

Since he left, Arsenal have not been able to make it back to the Champions League, and last year finished eighth, their worst finish in 25 years.

In an interview with The Telegraph, he said: “I think people are quite harsh about the last years.

© PA Arsene Wenger’s 22-year tenure came to an abrupt and bitter end in 2018

“In 2016 we finished second in the league. Leicester won but other teams were behind Leicester as well, and Leicester only lost three games. In 2017 we did not qualify for the top four for the first time in 20 years but we got 75 points.

“People don’t realise. We won the [FA] Cup against Chelsea who had just won the championship and had the chance of winning the double.

“And after, in 2018, we lost the League Cup final against (Manchester) City, we lost in the semi-final of the Europa League against Atletico Madrid but by just one goal.”

“But look, I gave the best years of my career to develop what I think is important – the stadium and pay it back and put the club in a position where it was capable of facing the future and had the potential to do well.

“At the end of the day, above all, we won and what I am most proud about is putting the club in that position.”

In a recent biography, Wenger wrote that leaving Arsenal was a “very lonely, very painful” moment but insists every decision he made was in the club’s best interests.

He also revealed the decision was taken out of his hands as the club told him it was best he moved on, despite his willingness to see out his contract.

The Frenchman is now chief of global football development at FIFA and currently pushing their controversial plans to make the World Cup every two years.

Despite an already packed footballing calendar which has seen increasingly shorter breaks for players, Wenger is backing calls for a more frequent World Cup.

Many worry this would harm players’ fitness and risk more injuries as they have little choice but to play more and more often.

Wenger shirked responsibility when asked about the proposals.

He said: “It is only my proposal! I don’t make that decision. It’s for the whole football world to decide.”

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